Ever since Blake Bell was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago, his family has banded together to support him.
On July 26, the Bell family — parents, Brad and Dana and brother, Nate — did just that, supporting 11-year-old Blake through their participation in the American Diabetes Association’s annual Tour de Cure fundraiser for the first time.
“We’ve always been involved in the ADA’s events, and this year we wanted to try something different,” said Dana. “We’ll definitely be doing this again in the future.”
The Camas family rode 27 miles alongside others diagnosed with diabetes and their families. They raised more than $3,500 through donations and participation of friends and family on their team, Blake’s Biggest Supporters.
Dana said that it was very inspiring for the kids and family to see all the other Red Riders, riders diagnosed with diabetes named after the red jerseys they wear.
“There are no limitations, even with a life-threatening disease like diabetes,” she said.
Approximately 900 riders took part in the Hillsboro Tour De Cure event and raised more than $400,000 for diabetes research, education and advocacy. More than 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014.
Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, which is needed to allow glucose to produce energy. Type 1 diabetes has no cure, but can be managed by tracking daily blood-sugar levels and using insulin therapy.
In comparison, Type 2 diabetes is more common and is a result of insulin resistance, causing a build up of glucose in the bloodstream. Diet and exercise can help to slow or stop the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
Blake must prick his finger several times a day to check his blood-sugar levels and administer insulin to keep levels stable.
Brad and Dana became familiar with the American Diabetes Association after Blake’s diagnosis in 2009. They were looking for resources to better prepare themselves for a disease they barely knew about.
“Right after Blake was diagnosed we went to a ‘Safe at School’ program,” said Dana. “That was the first year we did a walk and we’ve been with the ADA ever since.”
Blake and his family have benefited significantly from the association’s Safe at School program, a diabetes training program for area schools. Through the program, the Oregon and Southwest Washington office sent educators out to Blake’s school and trained his teachers, as well as the principal and health room staff.
Brad is now a member of the Community Leadership Board for Oregon and Southwest Washington American Diabetes Association.
The Bells will continue to support the American Diabetes Association, raising awareness and hoping for a cure.